Saturday, February 26, 2011

I may run the run, but I barely talk the talk

I'm not ashamed to admit that I don't understand running lingo.  Quoted directly from Runner's World magazine:

"Do a short speed workout, say, six x 400 meters at about 5K race pace.  20-minute tempo run at a comfortable hard pace (about eight to 10 seconds per mile slower than normal tempo pace.)  Ascend a hill that's 200 meters long, jog down; or run 400 meters at 85 percent effort."

Huh?  Only recently did I learn that 400 meters is one lap around the high school track.  I think.  Which would be helpful, except each lane is a little different in length and interpreting the marks on the track to determine where to start and stop the stopwatch is still beyond my grasp.  I can barely estimate how long one yard is, (from my nose to the end of my outstretched arm) much less a meter, much less 200 of them.

And speeds?  Tempo run, 5K pace, 85% of either?  As I've said before, my speeds are slow, slower and slowest.  I know I typically run a 10 minute mile and that's as technical as I get.  So even though I love my running books and magazines, much of it goes right over my head.

OTOH I do enjoy the wickedly fun word, "fartlek" which is similar in meaning to interval or sprint.  Impressed?  And no worries - no "Bathroom Talk" here.  This is strictly a Family-Friendly Blog.  Now you know a word that SOUNDS bad, but is as innocent as the day is long.  That might come in handy sometime.  You never know.

Here is a picture of Favorite Running Partner and me, heading out for our 17-miler in the bitter cold.  (Don't worry, she put gloves on.)
I'd estimate our pace was some unknown percentage less than our 5K pace.  But whatever the speed, we finished after dark and were both frozen and pooped!  Next time we have to do 18 ...  oh fartlek!  

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Wall - Dedicated to my 3 terrific sons, who'd BETTER be proud of their mom for this!

In the World of a Runner, the mention of a wall, usually brings to mind something that you "hit" at some point during an excruciatingly long run.  Meaning the point at which everything within you, mental and physical, shuts down, and you either give up, or drag yourself through it.  I've never experienced it YET, and fear the first time I do.  However, happily, that's not the wall I'm writing about in this post.

I'm referring to an actual WALL.  That I climbed.  Ha! 

One of the reasons we chose the cruise ship that we were on is because of the multitude of activities available.  One of them is a climbing wall.  This is a sport I've never attempted, nor wanted to attempt.  However, I've discovered that a few perceived successes on one sport can buoy you up with just enough confidence to try other sports.  

So I did.
You'd THINK the rope would offer some help.  It doesn't.
My arms have never been so tired!  But I RANG that darn bell!
Below is a picture of Bryce, who climbed it the night before.  He zipped right up to the top (using "good form" according to the guy at the other end of the rope), which is his usual manner of doing everything he puts his mind to, so well.
May this be the only "WALL" I ever encounter in my marathon quest.  Please.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Facebook, blogs, endearing addictions

I like to write.  Who knew?  I sure didn't have a clue until recently.  When a topic comes to mind, I just sit down at the keyboard and the words appear.  With memories of dreary writing assignments in school, from creative stories in the 5th grade, to essays in a college English class, all of which I hated, this is quite wondrous to me.  Since starting this blog just over two months ago, I can hardly stay away from it.  Or maybe it's the computer I can't stay away from.  I found this in the latest Reader's Digest that says it well:

"You've got a slide show due on Wednesday, you need to wash your son's soccer uniform before tomorrow, you haven't had your teeth cleaned in eight months, and the faucet has been leaking since last Tuesday.  So what do you do?  Update your Facebook status, of course!"

Who CAN'T relate to this?  (At least I ADMIT to being a Facebook junkie and blogging is now added to my personal list of addictions.)

A blog is, in a sense, like a piece of your own original art that you tweak to DEATH, then submit to the world and nervously wait for approval, acceptance, or ANY reaction whatsoever.

So, with absolutely nothing new to say about Running at the moment  -- other than Favorite Running Partner and I have another killer long run to do this week (gotta whine!) -- here I am, fussing over my blog, wasting time, before I go back to what I SHOULD be doing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

RLS, Foe or .... friend?

Restless Leg Syndrome.  I first felt it over 30 years ago during pregnancy #2.  Briefly, it's the irresistible urge to move your leg due to (for me) an intense jitteriness in the muscles.  Some people experience tingling, or the "creepy-crawlies".  Mine's more like the sensation you get when the doctor taps your knee to test your reflexes .... do they still do that?  Like an unpleasant electrical zing.  Here's the weird part, that may be unique with me:  I only feel it in one leg at a time - usually the right one - sometimes high, sometimes low, and the restlessness comes in waves.  The only relief is to move, flex, or stand, only to have it return as soon as you unflex, stop moving, or sit.  Also, it's usually only in the evening or at night, making sleep completely impossible, and airplane rides a nightmare.

Thirty years ago, pre-internet, NO ONE I knew had heard of it, including the couple of doctors to whom I went for help.  One day a friend referred me to a newspaper article titled, "Night-walkers", (I still remember it) about fellow sufferers.  I finally had a name for it and with the coming of the internet, I eventually found, through my own research, a medication worth trying.  Taking that info to the doctor, I asked for a prescription.  Though there is no cure, the med worked - or at least it keeps it manageable - and I will probably be on it for life.  It's either that or insanity, and trust me, RLS had me on that road.

So why share that here?  I still have bouts of it here and there (especially whenever I forget to take a pill) and MANY a night will drag myself out of bed and do deep knee bends in the dark. Working the muscles to the point of near exhaustion will often get rid of it for the night, or at least for a while, and I'm now up to at least 70 or more before my legs are tired enough.  BUT I think all these years of nocturnal knee bends has given me strong knees.  And strong knees are highly valuable for running.

I have never had (knock on wood!) any of the all-too-common-in-running knee injuries.   In the Hood to Coast relay, I ran the dreaded first "leg" (section) in Position #1 which is 5 miles of fairly steep down-hill road.  It's well-known for being a knee-killer and as team captain, I've read the helpful advice to assign this leg to my LEAST-favorite teammate.  (Assigning myself that leg may appear noble, but to be honest and to NOT take credit where none is due, the other legs that went with 1st Position were easy.  Besides, how hard can 5 miles DOWN HILL be?)  Result:  Other than the raging soreness in my calves and thighs and hobbling like a 90 year old the next day, my knees held up just fine.

RLS is not considered "dangerous" or "life threatening" even though in desperate frustration at 2 a.m., I've had occasional non-suicidal thoughts of beating my leg with a baseball bat.  But there have been blessings.  And I choose to include my sturdy running knees in those blessings.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Well, Duh.

I shouldn't admit my own stupidity so freely, but here goes.  In my determination to run while on our cruise, I dutifully packed my Garmin ..... watch ...?  It's not really a watch, so for the non-runners, it's a GPS device worn on your wrist that tells you how far you've gone, how fast you're going, and a lot of other helpful data that I have yet to figure out how to access.

On the morning of our first sea day, meaning no ports (stops) - just traveling, I headed out to burn some calories.  A few minutes into my run, I noticed my Garmin wasn't working correctly.  I mean the numbers were crazy.  It was saying I was running faster than 3 minute miles and had already gone over 20 miles in distance.  (If you're already ahead of me here, then yes, you are smarter than I.  Go ahead and gloat.)

I thought, "Has it switched to metric somehow?"  I pushed buttons, trying to fix it.  No good, so I gave up on it and just ran.

When I got back to our room, I shared the problem with Bryce.

"We're on a moving ship!" he laughed.



Well, at least it wasn't broken....

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Here are a couple of pics for some added bling:

Our ship anchored in Dominican Republic
 Private beach in Haiti

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Come Sail Away, Come Sail Away, Come Sail Away With Meeeeee!

Bryce and I like to go on cruises.  When we get home I usually think I'm DONE ... but give us 6 - 8 months and we'll be eyeing the websites and checking the deals again.  We've done almost all that are offered from our continent, well ... a lot of them, and have a particular fondness for the Caribbean.  It has something to do with sunshine, turquoise water, and steel drums.

We just returned from 12 days aboard one of our favorite ships from our favorite cruise line, Royal Caribbean.  These ships are monsters.  Several swimming pools, ice rink, sport court, inline skating, miniature golf, indoor mall, and more food than should be legal, just outside your stateroom door.

We visited 5 Eastern Caribbean islands that all look similar, except with varying levels of economic affluence and/or poverty.  I must say, in spite of the humble lifestyles of these people, they are neat, clean, and always willing to offer directions - even if they have no clue where we are trying to go.  They LOVE that we visit their island because we bring much needed dollars to their businesses.  They urge our return.  It's the same with the employees on the cruise ships.  They come from third world countries, and are grateful for the employment.  Without our patronage, there is no job.  It occurred to me on this trip that one of the best things we can do for these good people is help them earn a living.  Buy their goods and services.  And we did.

But what does this have to do with running?  Not much.  Since The Marathon is looming ahead like a big storm cloud, the training must go on - or at least as much damage control as possible.  And cruises are all about sabotage.  Don't believe them when they say that sea air shrinks clothing.  It's THIS that does it:
Yes, that is a cake and BTW I'm the one on the right of the saxophone.  This photo was taken on board where food just pops up everywhere, begging to be eaten.  And since it's ALL PAID FOR WITH YOUR TICKET, how can you walk away?  On a cruise ship, your day revolves around how long since you've eaten and how long till you eat again.  So what does a person do? 
I think I logged well over 20 miles during the whole trip, with 7 of those miles on the last day.

Cruise ships come well stocked with plenty of guilt-inducing exercise equipment in lavish spas.   But IMHO, the best kind of treadmill is one that I'm NOT on.

As for the weigh-in when I got home?  3 pounds gained.  Not bad.  And it's coming off.

Coming up:  Sea Garmins and climbing walls.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Head sets and Pretty Woman. Why do you care?

An annoying comment in Runner's World magazine: "I've been a spectator at several marathons, and it's a bit disheartening to be cheering myself hoarse for a group of runners, only to realize that the entire pack is wearing headphones and can't hear a word I'm shouting."  

My thought: "Well Annoying Person, it IS all about you, and not about the runners who are out there tackling the most difficult physical feat of their lives!"

Why is it that SOME people who don't wear headphones resent people who do?  Particularly runners.  Yes, there are some who have the volume too high and can't safely hear sounds around them.  But trust me, many of us are not guilty of that.  And I would definitely hear someone yelling himself hoarse, cheering me on.  I can even carry on a conversation with my headset and music on.  

Running in and of itself is not the most entertaining pastime.  Typically I'm on the same routes and seeing the same sights, countless times.  Music adds diversion.  It can even give me the ILLUSION that I look good out there.  When Roy Orbison is crooning, "Pretty Woman", I can delude myself that there's a slim chance he's singing about Yours Truly.  Or Billy Joel actually had ME in mind, when he wrote, "Uptown Girl".   Or when the Rascal Flats belt out, "Life is a Highway", I'm ON that highway with them. 

Remember standing on the sidelines at your freshman dance, and your FAVORITE song starts up and you will DIE if someone doesn't ask you to dance RIGHT NOW!  (Back when girls had to be asked.)  That's the feeling.  Only on the roadside, nobody has to ask.  You just start running and in your head, you're that freshman, dancing at that dance.  Research has actually shown that music helps you to run longer and farther.

Some running events ban headphones, probably for liability reasons, or else just to frustrate me.  My beloved Hood to Coast relay is one of those events, sad to say.  Controversy erupted on the message boards.  Some non-music runners smugly see themselves as Purists.  They prefer the "sounds of nature".  For me, the sounds of nature consist of my feet slapping the ground and endless panting.  They also complain that they can't have a conversation with another runner who is "plugged in".  I'd happily pop the ear buds out and talk IF THERE WAS EVER SOMEONE THERE.  99% of the time, I'm by myself!  

Last year I invested in some fairly useless, but permitted, clip-on speaker-things to get me through the Hood to Coast.  Note them clipped onto Lindsay's shirt as she hands the baton to teammate Brent:

As you may guess, the sound quality was lousy.  But they were better than nothing.  
So my question to the non-music runners is this:  Why do you care if I don't do it your way?  I'm not bothered if you like to run music-less.  Do whatever helps you to get out there ... whatever motivates you to stay with the sport that keeps you strong and healthy ... whatever helps you to NOT contribute to the societal costs of obesity, heart disease, or diabetes.  And if you're not willing to run along side me with plenty of chatty conversation to divert my mind off my aching lungs and muscles, then let me KEEP my delusion of being that Pretty Woman as I slog down the sidewalk in my over-sized shoes, running tights, and frizzy hair.    (Dum-dum-dum-dum-dadadadaDUM ...)